JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The Indonesian government and a United States-based mining company will appoint an independent team to investigate the collapse of a training tunnel last week near the company's operations in the remote Papua region that killed 28 local workers, officials said Wednesday.
Rescue workers on Tuesday night recovered the last body from the debris of the collapsed tunnel, in the Big Gossan underground training facility. The tunnel's roof caved in May 14 with 38 mining company employees inside, with only 10 surviving, company officials said.
Richard C. Adkerson, president and chief executive officer of the company, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, which is based in Arizona, said after a meeting with Indonesia's energy minister, Jero Wacik, that the company would not resume work until it was sure that its operations were safe.
Mr. Adkerson said he had visited the Big Gossan facility on several previous trips to Indonesia and was shocked by the cave-in.
"We had no concerns or fears about its safety, so that's why we need to understand why this happened," Mr. Adkerson said. "We're undertaking a review of all of our underground activities right now. It's our responsibility. There will be an independent review, and we will cooperate with it."
He said the independent investigation team would consist of Indonesian and foreign mining experts.
The accident occurred about 550 yards from the Grasberg Mine in Papua Province, the world's largest gold mine and third-largest copper mine. Operations were suspended at Grasberg, which is owned by a Freeport subsidiary, pending safety inspections. With the suspension of mining, Freeport is losing an estimated 220,000 tons of ore production per day.
"We want to underline that we have no thoughts of restarting our operations right now," said Rozik B. Soetjipto, the president director of the subsidiary, PT Freeport Indonesia.
Freeport Indonesia is the largest taxpayer to the Indonesian government, but it is a regular target of nationalist politicians who have called on it to pay higher royalties. The company has also had labor disputes in recent years.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.